Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Biograph Girl to be revived at the Finborough Theatre as part of their ‘Celebrating British Music Theatre’ series

(c)lwinram.com
In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre as part of their acclaimed ‘Celebrating British Music Theatre’ series, the first professional UK production since its 1980 premiere, The Biograph Girl by Warner Brown and David Heneker opens at the Finborough Theatre for a three week limited season on Tuesday, 22 May 2018.

From the composer of Half A Sixpence, a joyous musical celebration of Hollywood's glorious era of silent film – beginning in 1912 when disreputable “flickers” are shown in fleapits and no self-respecting actor will appear in them, and ending in 1927 with movies now a glamorous, multi-million dollar industry and the first talking pictures signal the doom of silent films.

In a breath taking sweep of just fifteen years, the great innovative directors created filmmaking as we know it today, ground breaking movie moguls laid the foundations of the entertainment industry, and trail blazing actors launched the Hollywood star system.

Weaving together the heartbreaks and triumphs of the flawed genius director D. W. Griffith and the first movie stars Lilian Gish and Mary Pickford,The Biograph Girlis a love letter to the stardust and scandals of the silent movie era.

The libretto has been especially revised for this production by its original co-writer Warner Brownand includes – for the very first time – the reintroduction of songs cut from the West End premiere production. 

The Biograph Girl received its West End premiere at the Phoenix Theatre in 1980, directed by Victor Spinetti, with Lillian Gish in the audience. This production is directed by Jenny Eastop who returns to the Finborough Theatre followingher production of Mr Gilliefor which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director.

Composer David Heneker(1906-2001) remains best known for his classic British musical Half A Sixpence, recently revived to huge acclaim in Chichester and the West End. His other musicals include Expresso Bongo(with Monty Norman) (1958), wrote English lyrics for Irma La Douce(1958), Make Me An Offer (with Monty Norman) which won the Evening Standard Award Best Musical Award, (1959), Half a Sixpence(1963) starring Tommy Steele, which won Tony nominations for Best Musical and Best Original Score and was filmed, Charlie Girl (with John Taylor) which ran in the West End for five years (1965), Jorrocks(1966), Phil the Fluter (1969),The Amazons (1970),Popkiss(1972), Hullabaloo (1972) and Peg(1984). He died in 2001.

Playwright and lyricist Warner Brown works on both sides of the Atlantic. As a bookwriter and lyricist, he has collaborated with the composers Angelo Badalamenti, Michael Feinstein, Tony Hatch, David Heneker, Michael Reed, Jimmy Roberts, Joshua Schmidt, Jim Steinman, Charles Strouse, George David Weiss and, by permission of the Cole Porter Trusts, the late Cole Porter. His work in the UK and London includes Son Of A Preacher Man (current UK National Tour), Cinderella (London Palladium), Six For Gold and The Black and White Ball(King's Head Theatre), the play The Prospero Suite(Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham),The House On The Corner (Edinburgh Festival) and the new version of Half A Sixpence. Work in Europe and the US includes Garbo - The Musical and Flickers. For BBC Worldwide and Global Creatures, Warner wrote the arena show Walking With Dinosaurs - the Arena Spectacularwhich won many international awards, including the Billboard Magazine Creative Content Award. Warner has extensive writing credits for the BBC and was Script Associate of the BBC Classic Musical series for which he adapted fourteen musicals and directed such artists as Anthony Newley, Barbara Cook and Tyne Daly. He is co-sponsor of The S&S Award for new musical theatre writing.

Director Jenny Eastop returns to the Finborough Theatre following her production of Mr Gilliefor which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director. She is Artistic Director of Mercurius Theatre for whom she has directed The Waiting Room(Leicester Square Theatre and Above the Arts Theatre), The Alchemist, The Devil Is An Ass, A Chaste Maid in Cheapsideand A Trick to Catch the Old One (all at The Rose Playhouse, Bankside), Anton Chekhov’s Vaudevilles(Jermyn Street Theatre), and School for Wives (White Bear Theatre) for which he received anOffWestEndnomination for Best Director. Jenny has also directed for companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe, National Theatre Studio and London New Play Festival, including the premiere of Peter Nichols’ new play So Long Life(Tobacco Factory, Bristol), Warde Street (Park Theatre) for which she received anOffWestEndnomination for Best Director, and Henna Night(Leicester Square Theatre). Jenny has worked as Associate Director to Michael Blakemore onThe Life (Southwark Playhouse), Blithe Spirit, with Angela Lansbury (Gielgud Theatre and US Tour), Embers, with Jeremy Irons (Duke of York’s Theatre), Democracy(National Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre, Broadway, and Sydney Theatre Company), Afterlife (National Theatre), Three Sisters, with Kristin Scott Thomas(Playhouse Theatre). Resident Direction includes working with Roger Michell on Blue/Orange(Duchess Theatre) and The Homecoming (National Theatre), and Matthew Warchus on The Devil Is an Ass (Royal Shakespeare Company).
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